Reading: January, 2020

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Man’s Search for Meaning, ★★★★★ Frankl, 2006, Nonfiction

“For the world is in a bad state, but everything will become still worse unless each of us does his best.”

Frankl’s book unpacks life at Auschwitz from a psychological point of view rather than a narrative of daily events. His thoughts when face with his own mortality (and the mortality of others) on a daily basis forces him to consider life’s most important questions – what is the purpose of suffering? how can man persevere in the most horrible of circumstances? what is most important in life? This book should be mandatory reading for all adults. Great way to start the reading year.

IMG_2148Frankenstein in Baghdad,★★★★ Saadawi and Wright (Translator), 2018, Contemporary Fiction, Manbooker Prize Finalist 

“Anyone who puts on a crown, even if only as an experiment, will end up looking for a kingdom.”

Translated from Arabic, this novel is a modern twist on Shelley’s Frankenstein exploring war, the value of life, and respect for the dead. I especially loved Elishva’s hope and faith amidst the horrors that everyday life which had become normal; she has a true mother’s heart. Hadi also captured my heart – overlooked by society yet fully alive and committed to his purpose of paying respect to the dead. I will probably reread this book since the narrative style is best described as Cubist with stories layered upon each other; now that I have the full picture, a reread would be beneficial. If you’re looking for a modern read exploring war and its effects (specifically in the Middle East), this is a great book.

IMG_2147Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in the Everyday Life, ★★★★★ Warren, 2016, Faith-based

“Everyone wants a revolution. No one wants to do the dishes.”

“Christian friendships are call-and-response friendships. We tell each other over and over, back and forth, the truth of who we are and who God is. Over dinner and on walks, dropping off soup when someone is sick, and in prayer over the phone, we speak the good news to each other. And we become good news to every other.”

Taking time to think through the routine daily moments of life and the potential in them was a great way to start 2020. I love how she frames being radical is in reality living out our faith in the ordinary moments of life.

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Never Let Me Go, ★★★★★ Ishaguro, 2005, Contemporary Fiction, Dystopian, multiple awards, author won Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017

“We took away your art because we thought it would reveal your souls. Or to put it more finely, we did it to prove you had souls at all.”

So subtle and so normal that it’s alarming. Love this approach on dystopia. I’m definitely ready to explore more of this author’s works.

31247643Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy, ★★★★ Lamott, 2017, Faith-based

“Mercy means that we no longer constantly judge everybody’s large and tiny failures, foolish hearts, dubious convictions, and inevitable bad behavior. We will never do this perfectly, but how do we do it better?”

Probably. 3.5 but I round up on Goodreads. Anne Lamott has a way of taking the daily faith questions and reframing them through stories and analogies that cause me to rethink them. This is what causes me to return to her over and over – not necessarily because of what I learn from her but rather the way she causes me to think.

Additional reading notes: I have been reading through the Psalms in accordance with the Lectionary and am almost finished copying the book of Daniel. I am also doing daily reading from various sources as part of a spiritual formation group that I’m in. The beginning of the year always tends to have more of a spiritual focus as a set the tone for the year, and this year followed that pattern.

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